2012: What Will You Be Eating?

by Laura on January 5, 2012

in Food

Yes, it is that time of the year again, when everyone makes their predictions for the New Year. In the food world, industry experts, magazine editors, bloggers and armchair food philosophers have all made their predictions for what we will find on our forks in 2012. Among the dozens we’ve come across, they’ve suggested we just might be clamoring for reindeer meat, elevating the farmer to celebrity status, and eating donuts. Undoubtedly, there are those we can live with, and those we can definitely live without.

So, instead of compiling yet another list, we decided to leave the prognosticating up to them and see how their predictions can fit into our own lifestyles. Here, Family Eats takes on the food trends for the New Year, decides what is really relevant to our lives (i.e. reindeer meat – NO; donuts – YES!)  and pledges to add content that will help our readers put these ‘relevant’ trends into action.

1. Eating as Family Occasion – Yes to the Family Meal!! Here at Family Eats, we are all about making meal time a family affair. The question is: What is the modern family? Single, unmarried, multi-ethnic? It doesn’t matter, because Family Eats will be offering up solutions for everyone on that family continuum. And, because 44 percent of adult eating happens alone, we will be sure to pay more attention to offering healthy, quick, and tasty solutions for those on the go – all with a bit of inspiration on how to slow down and make  mealtime a priority. Remember, the occasion of eating is what you make it – and why not make it a good one?

2. Food Prices will continue to rise – The Post-Tribune’s 10 Food Trends to Watch in 2012 (written by Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru) reminds us that higher food prices will continue to rise, ‘based on environmental conditions as well as higher costs of fuel, feed, packaging and food safety.” On one hand, that opens the door for fast food companies to continue to market the extreme value meal by tempting consumers into their doors with low prices for mounds of food. It also helps perpetuate the ‘buy in bulk’ mentality, where club and big box stores offer great deals on bushels of frozen burgers, liter after liter of soda and packaged snacks for phenomenal prices. We say “Don’t be tempted by these supposed ‘food values.’”

With food prices continuing to rise, Family Eats is hopeful that 2012 will be the year consumers pay more attention to ‘what’ we buy, ‘how’ we eat it, and ‘how much’ of it we throw away. Perhaps that means making the decision to eat less meat, cut back on soda consumption, reevaluating your snacking habit, or just realizing that super-sized portions are not good for you. But, whatever it is, this ‘trend’ will require us to plan meals, create a shopping list, pay attention to portion sizes, and experiment with new recipes. We’re up for the challenge; we hope you are too!

3. Dad in the Kitchen: This is one prediction that we are happy to embrace. Lempert notes that 41 percent of men are now cooking at home,” and that number has doubled since 2003. What better way to share responsibilities at home than to get dad in the kitchen? Choose one night a week when the man of the house is responsible for putting the meal on the table – Saturday morning pancakes, Sunday evening dinner, movie night nibbles . . .

We realize that not all Dads may feel comfortable in the kitchen (we’re lucky because Greg can be found in the kitchen honing his bread-baking skills on a weekly basis). So, in case the man in your house is a bit unsure of what (or how) to cook for dinner, Family Eats will find new ways to connect with the men, offering up recipes that may love to prepare, tools that make them feel at home in the kitchen, and overall support for helping make the family meal a reality.

4. We will continue to snack – Yes, we are a nation of snackers. And, Progressive Grocer (an industry trade magazine) points out that “nearly half of adult eating occurs between meals.” As for kids, those of us who have them, know they can eat nonstop all day long.“Consumers are looking for variety , convenience and better nutrition,” continues the Progressive Grocer prediction. I agree with this, but the author calls for companies to create better packaged food snacking options (you know, those found in the center of the store). We at Family Eats opt for shopping the perimeter – where there are fresh foods – and create healthier snacks without additives, added sugars, or added unpronounceable ingredients.

This year, keep an eye out for more ideas for snacking in between meals, inspiration on how to switch from potato chips and soda to vegetables and protein-rich energy-filled snacks. We’ll help you re-tune our palates to enjoy healthier snacks, in smaller portions, throughout the day.

5. Smaller Portion Sizes From sodas, burgers, and cappuccinos to pasta, pizza, and fries – our portion sizes have grown substantially over the past two decades, resulting in one-third of American adults being considered obese. It is time for us to reduce our portion sizes and increase our attention to what we eat. So, yes, we agree with James Beard Foundation’s prediction for smaller portion sizes, and would also like to throw in the reminder that if you eat more whole foods, slow down, and enjoy the time spent eating, you’ll be more likely to eat less.

6. But, we will continue to eat desserts Move over cupcakes, muffin tops, pies and macaroons the James Beard Foundation editors have predicted that the next pastry trend is for caneles, (a pastry native to Bordeaux, France), along with one of my favorites, donuts. So, while we look for healthier ways to snack, it is important to remember, that you can indulge from time to time. And when you do, it is best to indulge with something that tastes delicious and keeps you from craving more.

7. Yes, there is an ethnic food revolution, but Nordic Cuisine?? American consumers have a desire to explore new culinary adventures, but I have a hard time believing thatNordic specialties such as reindeer meat, cured fish, foraged beach plants and exotic proteins like snow grouse are going to catch on as the centerpieces of the Sunday Family Meal. Go ahead, experiment with new cuisines when you dine out, but here at home, I’m are looking for new ways to spruce up old favorites; new twists on meals that make our current favorites even better; and a further experimentation with tasty, healthy dishes (which may include the trend-worthy Thai Food resurgence prediction – and maybe, just maybe, some rabbit and goat.)

8. Nutrition Education -Make Healthy Choices In the past few years there has been a lot of focus on what Americans eat – from school lunches to fast food, to feed lot meat and beyond. You may be tired of hearing about it, but if food prices are predicted to continue to rise, Family Eats suggests that you make 2012 the year that you make better food choices.

Re-educate yourself a bit about nutrition, and cut back on those foods that just may not be the best for you. Change your habits in the grocery store. Slow down and learn a bit about how nutritious your food choices are.

And yes, we agree with Phil Lempert that nutrition labels can be complicated. As he notes in his predictions, a research study from University of Minnesota found “That consumers have a limited attention span when reading Nutrition Facts Labels. Since they stick to the top few lines, they may miss important nutrition information that could be stored lower on the list that is important to their health and wellness.”

So, what to do if you’ve not time to read the labels? Buy foods that don’t have nutrition labels – apples, green beans, bulk grains . . .

9. The Farm to Fork adventure will continue says Phil Lempert and food critic, Adam Platt, but how convenient is shopping at the farmers’ market week in and week out? Considering most American shoppers opt for a supermarket or club store to get their food, this ‘trend’ may take a few years to take hold with the masses.

If you’re not ready to chat things up with a farmer at the market, try CSA boxes, they are a perfect way to buy local, seasonal foods directly from the farmer. Not only will you save time in shopping, but you are exposed to new vegetables, and new ways to cook them, as well as fresh foods, with all the flavor and health benefits.

If you are interested in learning more, you can also develop a relationship with the farmer, even visit the farms. The same is true of meat – you can visit your Farmer’s Market, strike up a conversation with the farmer, and order away.

However you decide to do it, put a face to the food you eat, and take a bit of time learning about how your food choices are important to your own health and that of the environment.

10. The Family Eats’ Four Pillars: Planning. Purchasing, Preparing and Partaking.

Rising food prices, new ethnic specialties, men in the kitchen, the farmer, or the donut — If you are embracing one or several of the new food-related predictions for the new year, it is time to incorporate the Four Pillars of Family Eats. In the new year, we will be placing more emphasis on highlighting each of the Pillars: Planning, Purchasing, Preparing and Partaking, giving our readers the information, inspiration and enthusiasm to “Reconnect with the food we eat and the family we love.”


Happy New Year from Family Eats.


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